Accident the Mother of Invention?
Is necessity really the mother of invention or do we actually learn more from accidents and interruptions that occur along the way? Of course, we have a word to embellish our bungling incompetence: experimentation. Calling our invention journey a series of experiments provides excellent cover. An experiment is optimistic, daring and exciting. Even though we generally accept that they are going to go wrong.
Just do it again
So the easiest path to success is to copy what others have done before. Little danger of things going wrong, someone else or in fact many people have gone through that arduous process before us. A maker’s audience often appreciates something familiar over a radical new idea or approach. New inventions need time to take root and sometimes we just don’t have the patience to allow that to happen before the next challenge comes along to distract us.
So what we tend to end up with is an endless repetition of the past tweaked to bring it into line with the latest fad. Is it our incompetence as consumers that dumbs down applied art?
In a time long forgotten, people experimented and failed, not even knowing that they had not succeeded as they had no understanding of what might be better. Ignorance is bliss, they say. Perhaps not if you were hungry and did not know which berries were poisonous and which were nutritious. That certainly was a time in which you could really benefit from a fool rushing in. It would seem that in the long run at least, a distinction was made between the two. Those many accidents did eventually lead to the survival of the last to reach the bush.
It is all too easy to believe that we are so much more advanced than our ancient forebearers. With all of the acquired knowledge of the human race we should be taking awe-inspiring decisions on the hour by now.
High time we reinvented our appreciation of new accidents, don’t you think? And if inventions have always been accidents and always will be, perhaps it is time to rearrange the words. So that they say what they really mean. Invention the mother of accident.